What a joy it was to welcome back Emily Kenward, Founder and CEO of local charity, Time to Talk Befriending which is celebrating 10 years of overcoming loneliness through relationship-centred, befriending services.

TTTB is our project for the year and there is an opportunity over the next few weeks to bring in monetary gifts which will bless Emily and her team and will advance the work and bring encouragement and hope to the lives of many older people in the Brighton and Hove area.

Whilst training as a social worker in 2011, on walking down Lavender Street in Brighton, Emily became acutely aware that there were large numbers of older people living in Brighton often in high rise apartments who spent each day alone, sometimes going for days or weeks without seeing or speaking to anyone. So, together with her local Church and other agencies, Emily sought to reach, connect, and engage with older people with a vision to identify their wants and needs and then assist them to become more socially included within the community.

At an ‘Honouring Older People’ tea party, neighbours who hadn’t seen each other for years were reconnecting. They were swapping numbers and sharing stories about how their lives had changed since they had not been able to leave the four walls of their homes without extra support. The majority of the 94 participants said they felt a deep sense of loneliness and that until Emily and her team of supporters had reached out, they thought they were ‘invisible’. The evidence collected from these events highlighted an overwhelming need to ‘see a friendly face at home’. As a result, Time to Talk Befriending was founded on the collective voice of these older people who said that they felt ‘invisible’, ‘forgotten’ and ‘alone.’

Emily then shared some heart-warming personal stories of people whose lives had been touched and changed by the support received, woven together with some thoughts from John 15 v 12-17 (which is helpful to read).

Love is not optional. We love because He first loved us! Jesus was intentional and spent time listening and engaging.  He loved without limits. Do we?

Jesus is our supreme example. Even though Jesus knew He was going to the cross to die an agonising death, to save us from our sins, He chose to spend precious time with His disciples teaching them how to love and what it looked like in practice. See John 15 v 17 – Love each other. Ephesians 2 v 10 – We are created to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.  Emily encouraged us to grow intentionally in our walk with Jesus.

We are all chosen to serve and bear fruit. Friendship is one of the ways whereby we can reflect the Father’s heart. 1 Thessalonians 5 v 11 – Let’s encourage one another and build each other up.

Emily reminded us that the Christian life is a marathon and not a sprint – how true that is!

To find out more about the work, head to the Time to Talk Befriending website: Time To Talk Befriending